Road Schooled

Lessons from the Road to Somewhere

How to Plan for a Trip into the Unknown

Posted on | June 24, 2009 | Comments Off on How to Plan for a Trip into the Unknown

Road Trip Car, Kayak, Bike at the Badlands

A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown. - Denis Waitley

One of the most common questions I get when I tell people that I solo road tripped the lower 48 is:

How do you plan for something like that? And why don’t you have a van?

The truth is I never planned to solo road trip the lower 48. It just happened. And that is why l lived out of a sedan and station wagon while traveling instead of a much more comfortable van.

My plan was to solo road trip the National Parks of the West and then my curiosity led me to the East coast since I had never been there. And once I had traveled about half of the United States I thought it would be cool to visit all of the lower 48 states. One thing led to the next, and eventually, to more than what I thought I was capable of — solo road tripping the lower 48.

If I had planned to solo road trip the lower 48 I would have never done it. I would still be planning.

I would be overwhelmed with all the what ifs and self-doubt since the longest I ever solo road tripped previously was one week. Too many unknowns to go along with my lack of travel experience.

Even solo road tripping just the National Parks of the West felt overwhelming before I left. I was excited yet terrified. But I went anyway.

Once I was on the road I tried to plan ahead a few times. But something would always come up to foil my plan: bad weather, car troubles, the flu, etc. Within two days my plan was usually obsolete, so I never planned ahead more than two days. I winged it.

While I didn’t have a detailed plan, I did have a general direction – a fuzzy goal.  The National Parks of the West, East coast, the South, the Southwest, and eventually to complete the lower 48. I just didn’t know the pathway that would get me there.

I picked a direction and made a leap of faith.  Jumped into the unknown and figured out the details along the way.  The more time I spent in the unknown the more comfortable I became dealing with uncertainty.  Now I plan on not being able to plan.  My “plan” for journeys into the unknown is:

Pick a direction.  Take a leap of faith.  Make lots of mistakes.  Learn.  Adapt.

If you want to make a major change in your life sometimes you just need to take that initial leap of faith and then figure out the details along the way.  Pick a direction and blaze a new trail into the unknown.  The unknown holds more than you ever dreamed possible.


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